A great chance find at the library, lying there on top of a returned-book cart. This isn’t a book review or recommendation, although Barns, Sheds & Outbuildings is a cool browsing volume, full of clear explanations, instructions, and photos. What it did was remind me, as my year of living mainly in town has its effect, how little most of us (I’m talking about the majority of North Americans, at least, living in cities and towns) have to do with actually building things. And how kinda HELPLESS we are, not knowing how to put together and repair the structures we need. I read somewhere that in the 1950′s, around half of the houses in Toronto (so, I assume, in other big cities as well) were built by the owners. Who’d think of doing that now?
The interesting thing is, like growing food, building basic structures IS NOT HARD. For me, working alongside Bob to put up a wood-framed, winterized, 450 sq. ft. barn extension clued me in to that a few years back. Not a huge project, but it was basically a tiny house constructed to withstand cold Canadian winters. We leveled land and poured a concrete pad, built a concrete block retaining wall, framed, installed a metal roof, windows and doors, insulated and wired…everything. Being warm and dry in the middle of winter inside a structure I knew literally down to the nuts and bolts was satisfying and fundamental. Working alongside someone with old-school farmer skills, following his lead, doing whatever he did, made it…simple.
There aren’t that many old-school farmers left to learn from, but we do have books! :)
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